Dave Kopay, the former Washington Redskin who publicly disclosed he is a homosexual in December, 1975, has written a book about his struggle for sexual identity within the macho confines of the National Football League.
The 34-year-old Kopay, who resides in Washington, came to the Redskins when the late Vince Lombardi was coach and played from 1969 through 1971. During his 10-year career in the NFL he gained more than 1,000 yards rushing and 600 yards pass receiving.
The book was written in collaboration with Perry Deane Young, a former United Press International correspondent.
The book traces Kopay's life from his adolescent days to his football stardom at the University of Washington (where he had his first homosexual experience), and through his years in the NFL to the day of his disclosure to a Washington Star reporter, Lynn Rosellini.
The last few chapters detail his journey across the nation to the University of Washington alumni game where he faced his former teammates, friends and family.
Most of all, Kopay's account shatters the "straight" line other athletes have presented as the inside story of the National Football League, Kopay, who play on five different NFL teams, writes that he didn't come to terms with his homosexuality until the end of the 1969 Redskin season.
Reflecting on his experience in Washington, Kopay writes, "Several other teammates knew about my homosexuality. The black players - Ray Jefferson, Jim Snowden, Henry Dyer, Charlie Harraway - all knew I was gay and none of them cared one way or the other."
At other times, however, Kopay's sexual preference led to uneasy feelings. While playing with Detroit, Kopay says linebackers Wayne Walker and Mike Lucci were especially rough on him. While with Washington, Kopay says Sonny Jurgensen was "brutal" about one player's homosexuality, calling him a "goddamned fag" at times.
Yet Kopay, who captained the special teams for the Redskins, does not say his untimely dismissal in 1971 was a result of his homosexuality.
"No, I don't think my being cut had anything to do with my being homosexual because I don't think (George) Allen or any of the other coaches knew about it."
Other professional athletes have written on their respective sports, but never dealt with the issue of homosexuality. Only one book, "The Front Runner," the story of a homosexual long distance runner who is assassinated at the Olympics, has dealt exclusively with the issue of a homosexual athlete.
Kopay's book makes it clear that his homosexuality is not an isolated incident in the NFL (he puts the figure at 5 per cent), and writes that he knows of at least one general manager and three quarterbacks who are homosexuals. He does not name names.
"The David Kopay Story" is the story of one man's struggle to be truthfull with himself, as well as others. Moreover, the book debunks the theory that all homosexuals are weak, feeble, effeminate males. Kopay has proved that on the field, and now again by writing this book.